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Why are we so obsessed with burning calories – when we can USE them instead.

Everywhere you look in the fitness realm we are bombarded with messages around how to torch fat and burn calories but are these things really that important?

If you think about it - merely existing ‘burns’ calories. In fact, a big proportion of the calories you eat goes into simply keeping your body alive and regulating your body’s many systems. This process is called your basal metabolic rate or BMR. The next big contributor to your daily energy expenditure is your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) and incidental exercise. Your NEAT accounts for all the subconscious movement your body does throughout the day – toe tapping, fidgeting, talking and laughing. Incidental exercise has to be one of my favourites though– as this is a way to simply burn calories whilst enjoying and living your life. Examples include; playing with your kids, shopping, walking to work, jumping over the waves at the beach, running to pat a cute dog... You see your workout is simply the cherry on top – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. A good workout program keeps your body fit and strong so that you can get more out of life and keep on doing the things you love. Your daily workout has so much more potential than to simply burn calories.

It offers many benefits.

Some examples include:

  • Encouraging your body to get comfortable in and out of different positions.

  • Teaching your body how to cope under controlled load,

  • Increased energy and vitality,

  • Improving muscle and bone mass, and

  • Assists in improving important health markers such heart and lung capacity.

So, if you find yourself stuck in a rut, mindlessly going through the motions every workout it might be time to rethink your approach to training.

A way to do this is to write a list of all the things you want to get out of your workouts and creating a training goal specific to these ideas then building your program from there. Here are some ideas: Benefit: Improve my cardiovascular fitness

Training Goal: Run my first 5kms without stopping

Program: Couch to 5k training program

Benefit: Keep my bones strong and healthy Training Goal: Complete 2-3 resistance sessions a week

Program: A periodised strength program.

I know it may seem like semantics but changing the way we view our time in the gym can have a real impact on motivation and consistency when it comes to training. If we want to be in it for the long haul it’s important to look past our workout from purely an aesthetic standpoint and find their true value. There is definitely power in the wording... Something to lose or something to gain.

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